Travelers looking to experience life—or, at least, New York City—on the top of the world need look no further than the One World Observatory. The tallest building in the western hemisphere, One World Trade Center features a high-speed elevator that shoots visitors straight to the three-story observatory in just 47 seconds. On the ride up, impressive time-lapse technology showcases the city’s transformation from the 1500s to the present in immersive floor-to-ceiling screens. At the top, spectacular 360-degree views of New York City’s waterways, iconic skyline, and renowned landmarks stretch for miles.
Travelers to the One World Observatory are welcomed to One World Trade Center with video displays telling the story of the building’s construction, then head up 1,268 feet (386 meters) via 15-person sky pods to the main observation deck and the city’s best views. Several installations allow visitors to zero in on various neighborhoods and check out real-time footage of streets far below. Standard timed-entry admission tickets are available, as are skip-the-line priority reserved tickets, priority anytime tickets, and flexible tickets that allow entry at any time on a specific day or anytime after 4pm for sunset. Guided 45-minute highlights tours are offered by reservation. New York City tours that include One World Observatory admission often couple the visit with trips to other top attractions such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Statue of Liberty, or Ellis Island.
Things to Know Before You Go
Standard day tickets are by timed entry. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time.
It’s best to allot 45 minutes to an hour for the observatory tower.
The One World Observatory and its exhibits are wheelchair accessible.
There is no coat or bag check, and large backpacks and luggage are not permitted.
One Mix, the bar on the 101st floor, offers snacks with a view. Outside food is not allowed.
How to Get There
The One World Observatory is located inside One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. The entrance is via the West Plaza located alongside West Street, at the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site. The tower is easily accessed by taxi, and a number of subway stops—including Chambers Street (A or C train), World Trade Center (E), Rector Street (1), Fulton Street (2, 3, 4, or 5), and Cortland Street (R or W)—are within short walking distance. The M20 and M55 buses also stop near the building.
When to Get There
One World Observatory is open daily from 9am to 8pm much of the year, and until 10pm May through August. Last entry is 45 minutes before closing. Daytime visits afford sweeping panoramic views, while evening and nighttime visits showcase the city’s romantic twinkling lights. And after the sun goes down, so do the prices—nighttime tickets are half price. Prime time—also the priciest time to visit—is from sunset to twilight, when visitors get to experience a little bit of both.
Dining at the Top of the World
One Dine, the highest restaurant in the United States, is accessible only to One World Observatory ticket holders and requires advance reservations. The 101st-floor fine dining establishment serves a seasonal menu and offers craft beer, wine, and cocktails overlooking the main observation floor. For small plates and drinks, head to One Mix (no reservations required).